Morrisons says it will seize the “step-change opportunities” of online retail as it emerges from ths Covid-19 pandemic. During the coronavirus lockdown it increased its online and home delivery capacity five-fold, while weekly home online deliveries more than doubled as the retailer and its ecommerce partner Ocado increased the number of stores where could pick online orders from 33 to 193. The retailer also increased the number of stores that Amazon could deliver from, same-day, from 17 to about 50, taking the Morrisons on Amazon service nationwide.
“We want to continue to seize what seem like step-change opportunities in the online and at-home markets, holding onto the new growth we have created so far and developing new ideas, in retail and wholesale to be even bigger and better in the future,” Morrisons said in half-year results today.
Morrisons now has five channels for home deliveries of its product, from doorstep delivery and food boxes for vulnerable shoppers, to pick from store, and selling via Amazon and Deliveroo, which helped to lift like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, by 8.7%, compared to the same time last year. Total revenues, however, were down by 1.1% at £8.7bn as demand for fuel collapsed during lockdown. When fuel was excluded, total revenue grew by 8.8% to £7.55bn. But Covid-related net costs of £62m, including those of taking on 45,000 extra staff during lockdown, meant that pre-tax profits fell by more than a quarter (-28.5%) compared to the same time last year.
The supermarket, ranked Top100 in RXUK Top500 research, said it had almost reached its wholesale supply target of £1bn a year, and would start supplying the 240 McColl’ stores that it does not already serve in the second half of the year.
Morrisons chief executive David Potts said: “From the start of the pandemic we stepped up and put the company’s assets at the disposal of the country to help feed the nation. Morrisons is at the heart of local communities and responded quickly when it mattered most, and we are very grateful for the British public’s appreciation of all the vital work our colleagues are doing. I believe we are seeing the renaissance of British supermarkets.
“We are now looking forward to holding on to what we created in the first half, building on our colleagues’ inspiration and innovation, and sustaining the momentum of a broader, stronger Morrisons. I’d like to again thank every Morrisons colleague for their incredible efforts: you’ve earned your key worker status several times over.”
The retailer says it now plans to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis better organised in ways including enabling more staff to work from home. It said that it would invest in prices – in recognition of a UK recession – and in customer service, and it is also to trail a Scan and Go app so that shoppers can log their in-store purchases via their smartphone and then pay quickly at the checkout.